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Aparna Sen weaves another love story

The Japanese Wife traces the life of a schoolmaster, Snehamoy (Bose), who lives in a tiger-infested Sundarbans village in Bengal.

Moushumi Chatterjee and Rahul Bose
Image Credit: Supplied
Moushumi Chatterjee and Rahul Bose.
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The Japanese wife
Cast:
Rahul Bose, Chigusa Takaku, Moushumi Chatterjee, Raima Sen
Director: Aparna Se
Rating: G

Aparna Sen's The Japanese Wife was in the cans for a long time due to the lack of a suitable distributor. A few months ago, Sen told me about her frustration trying to find a distributor with an eye for meaningful cinema. Her search has since ended, with Saregama ready to showcase her film. Sen - whom renowned filmmaker Satyajit Ray discovered in 1961 for Teen Kanya - fell in love with Kunal Basu's short story The Japanese Wife. Part of a book of stories, The Japanese Wife is the most poignant of the lot, and it's not surprising that the tome itself is titled after it. What is even more interesting is that this is the first time Sen is using a story other than her own.

The Japanese Wife traces the life of a schoolmaster, Snehamoy (Bose), who lives in a tiger-infested Sundarbans village in Bengal. He falls in love with his Japanese pen pal Migaya (played by Japanese actress Takaku) and gets married through letters. But the two don't meet for 15 years after that.

Much like her mentor, Ray, who favoured actor Soumitra Chatterjee, Sen has had a fascination with Bose. This is her third film with him. "It was difficult to trust anyone with Snehamoy except Rahul," Sen, said. "What's difficult about Snehamoy is that he is a humdrum little man and yet he has something extremely extraordinary in his life. He has a Japanese wife whom he has never met. The bizarreness of the whole premise is utterly charming."

In this lyrically-told movie, Snehamoy and Miyage go the distance for their love, from the happy to the funny to the sad - sometimes even the bizarre. Only a director like Sen could've woven a love poem like this on-screen. It's widely hoped that The Japanese Wife will be as gripping as her previous films 36 Chowringhee Lane and Mr and Mrs Iyer.

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